Alice Learns to Stay Safe

A little girl, Alice, stands in a field next to a lake looking over her shoulder toward the camera

At six years old, Alice* likes the same things as lots of girls her age – she loves horses and her best friend, drawing and dressing up, and is a loving big sister to her siblings Rosie and Sam.  But last year, Alice’s world was turned upside down when she witnessed her dad hurt her mum and watched as he was driven away in a Police car.

Alice’s Mum, Rachel, describes what that experience was like for her and her children, and how their support worker Hannah helped them all to heal. “Honestly, my experience with Aviva was such a positive one. It absolutely helped me and my kids through a really dreadful time, so if telling my story helps even one other person, it’s totally worth it.

“All three of my children saw what happened and watched as Daddy got taken away in handcuffs. After that, they were very clingy towards me – the two little ones especially needed me around all the time. I was their safe place, but of course I was in shock too, processing it all, so they saw me in tears and witnessed me having a panic attack. That was really frightening for them.

“We were referred to Aviva and Hannah started seeing Alice at school. She made it clear to Alice that she was a safe person to talk to and that Alice could ask her questions she was frightened to ask me. Hannah was fantastic with Alice and she just adored her.

“The whole thing was so good for Alice. She’d gone from being a confident kid to being so anxious and frightened to take risks. I saw her carrying herself differently. But going through the education programme with Hannah and learning her safety plan made such a difference.” 

“Since working with Hannah, I’ve noticed Alice using the things she’s learnt – she’s got her little worry dolls and I see her counting on her fingers when she gets upset. She’s got so much of her confidence back. I just think the whole thing was so empowering for her.

“Hannah didn’t just help Alice – she helped me too. She explained what the children were going through. Going through the criminal case was so challenging, and it was just great to know that someone who knew what they were doing was backing me up and that I wasn’t on my own trying to help my kids through this.”

Rachel describes how she felt when she saw her two-year-old acting out what he’d seen his dad doing. “It was awful – I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing from my untouched baby. But I rang Hannah and she explained what was happening – ‘He’s processing,’ she said, ‘seeing how you react to it.’ Having that professional at the end of the phone was so reassuring.”

When asked how things are at home now, Rachel replies, “Things are really great. It’s obviously been very up and down, but we’ve got our routines back. The kids are like their normal selves again. Alice is still very aware of things and protective of her brother and sister. Sometimes I have to remind her, ‘It’s ok, I’m the mum.’ It’s taken a while to re-set those boundaries, but all in all, we are doing really good.

“If I could offer any advice to someone going through what we went through, I would say, ‘Ask for help – just do it.’ The biggest thing for me was the shame factor, but this stuff could happen to anyone, of any background, in any neighbourhood. There is no shame in it. You can try and cope with things on your own, but actually reaching out for help for your children isn’t just empowering for them – it’s empowering for you as a parent.

“Our family motto is now ‘strong, brave, fierce.’ Me and my girls say it all the time. I am so thankful to Aviva for giving that to us.”

You can support children like Alice by making a donation at the link below.


*Not her real name.